Written: July 31-August 3, 1998

Disclaimer: This story is mine, but the characters are owned by you-know-who. No copyright infringement intended, inferred, or implied.

Rating: PG-13 [for language (1 or 2 words)]

All or Nothing

1998 by: Saffron

Kathryn Janeway strode onto to bridge with a smile on her lips, but made no comment.

"Report, Mr. Paris"

"Nothing out of the ordinary, Captain"

"Fine. I'll be in my ready room. Commander, I'd like to see you when you have a moment."

Chakotay looked up at her and saw her staring at him as the doors closed. For some reason, he didn't want to appear anxious or obvious, but before he was able to move out of his chair, he was hailed by his captain.

"I mean now, Commander"

Before she finished, he was at her door.

He waited for the door to close before he spoke. "You wanted to see me captain?"

Captain Janeway was seated at her desk hands in front of her, fingers intertwined. While there was a hint of a "twinkle" in her eyes, Chakotay decided not to push it, stared straight ahead but watching her out of the corner of his eye.

"At ease, commander."

Janeway got up, hands behind her back and started walking slowly around her desk toward him.

"I heard an interesting rumor at breakfast." His eyes followed her, his feet shift nervously.

"I heard that the commander of this ship was seen walking down the corridor & whistling." The corner of her lip threatened a smile.

Kathryn stopped in front of him and took in the sight of him with her eyes, starting at his feet finally stopping and looking into his eyes. It took a lot self-control not to reach out & touch him, but she stood firm...even as his eyes moved slowly toward hers.

They stood there for a moment...eyes locked in a gaze.

He watched as her beautiful face broke out into a smile. "I had you goin' there for minute, didn't I?"

Chakotay nodded his head slightly in acknowledgement, but didn't return the smile. "Would you like to know why I was whistling?"

Kathryn's face lost the smile as she stepped back. She searched his face before she answered.

"Not now."

"Why not now? You called me in here."

"Because I know where you are heading and I do not want to do this, not in here, not while we are on duty."

Chakotay took a step toward her. "Ohhh...so I can only be happy about us when we're off-duty."

Caught off guard, Kathryn felt her heart beat faster, "I... hadn't thought that far ahead."

As he moved closer to her, she backed away until she bumped into her desk. Chakotay stopped, his face close enough to kiss her.

"Well I have thought of nothing else since New Earth. When I started living my life as a part of this crew, I gave my heart & soul to you. Now there's love to add to that, if you want it. I can't turn it off and on like light. It is constant. It is burning. I'm pretty good at compromise, but in this case, it has to be all or nothing. Think about it, Kathryn."

He looked as though he was going to kiss her and part of her wished he would, but instead he turned on his heel and left the room.

Kathryn turned to the windows, eye bright with emotion, not really seeing the stars flying by.

Why couldn't she let herself be "Kathryn" with him, even while on duty? She searched her mind for the answer.

******

Chakotay walked toward his chair and heavily sat down, as though his legs did not feel like holding him up any longer.

Tom watched Chakotay as he sat down but turned around when Chakotay glared at him.

Tom assumed that the commander was is some kind of trouble with the captain. But what? His mind went to a flurry of conclusions as he kept Voyager on course, mentally tallying which ones to discuss with Harry & Be'lanna later at dinner.

******

Kathryn stayed in her ready room for the rest of her duty shift, busying herself with reports and duty assignments, but her attention was divided. Chakotay's words swirled around in her head--"all or nothing"...those words reminiscent of words spoken to her by her father when she told him she aspired to be a Starfleet officer. And that's what she'd done. Kathryn had given her all to her career and met a man who understood that and still wanted to be with her. But now Mark was out of the picture. Her devotion to her career had become a big part of who she was. But now...Chakotay...had happened. He had slowly worked his way into her thoughts. Over the last few years, she had come to trust him. He provided the emotional confidante that she occasionally missed when she discussed things with Tuvok.

Her shift finally over, she stepped on to the bridge. Chakotay turned his head to look at her. She held his gaze only a second as she walked past him towards the turbolift.

Chakotay returned to silently staring at the viewscreen.

******

As soon as the turbolift doors closed, Kathryn felt tears form in her eyes. The hurt in his eyes was quite clear and she hated that her actions were partly the cause. Sending crew members into dangerous situations seemed easier for her to deal with. She had hurt him, unintentionally, but...that seem quite irrelevant. "Halt turbolift." She had to compose herself...at least long enough to reach her quarters. She wiped her eyes and took a long deep breath. "Resume turbolift."

She walked in to her quarters, exhaled and locked to door. She was too restless to sit down. She began to get angry. How dare he give her an ultimatum! She was flooded with a mix of emotions, each contradicting the other.

CRASH!

She was astounded to see that she had thrown her coffee cup at the mirror. She moved her hands to her face. They were shaking and her cheeks were wet with tears produced by her conflicted emotions.

She spoke out loud to no one, "This cannot go on".

******

Chakotay arrived at the mess hall hoping that maybe Kathryn would be there, but not really expecting her to. She wasn't. He really wasn't in the mood to socialize with anyone, but thought some small talk would distract him.

Tom stopped talking as soon as he saw Chakotay enter the room. In fact a lot of the chatter in the room ceased. Leave it to Neelix to break the silence. "Commander! I see you've come to try my specialty of the day: Veruvian potato soup with just a touch of leola root." Chakotay's mouth went dry at the thought, but took the soup and decidedly walked past Tom, Be'lanna & Harry to sit alone at a table in the back.

Tom spoke up, "Commander, why don't you join us." Be'lanna kicked him under the table. To their relief, Chakotay declined their offer. "Thanks Tom, I think I'll just sit over here."

Chakotay sat down and timidly tasted the soup. Since it wasn't as bad as he expected, he began to eat while his thoughts returned to Kathryn, wishing he'd not gotten so angry with her. Nobody likes ultimatums and besides, it wasn't fair. He knew her...sometimes better than she knew herself. He had expected her to explode in response to his words, but she just stared at him and hadn't said anything to him since. Part of him wanted to go to her and apologize, but another part felt he was right in acting on his feelings. His thoughts were interrupted by a shadow crossing his face. Startled, he looked up and dropped his spoon. It was Kathryn. He bolted up from his chair, knocking his tray off the table.

Kathryn, in need of some humor, half smiled at his sudden clumsiness.

After he picked up his tray, Chakotay stood to face Kathryn, noticing her red and puffy eyes.

Kathryn spoke just loud enough for him to hear. "Can we talk...somewhere?" He nodded and followed her through the mess hall and out into corridor, leaving his tray on the table.

Be'lanna elbowed Tom and glared at him as the Captain and Commander passed their table. "Ow! What was that for?" Be'lanna rolled her eyes as if to say "Boy are you clueless".

*******

About two paces after exiting the mess hall, Kathryn stopped suddenly. Chakotay bumped into her, sending her sprawling to the floor. He reached out a hand, but she refused it. "No thank you, I'm fine." After she stood up, she looked at him for a brief moment, "I thought we could go to my quarters...it's not very neutral, but private. What do you think?"

Chakotay nodded silently.

*********

He followed her into her quarters. After the doors closed, he stood watching her back. Not wanting to push her any further, he waited for her to initiate.

Kathryn turned to face him. She swallowed hard, trying to force that lump in her throat into her chest. She walked toward him, searching his eyes for answers. His nearness broke down the last of her resolve. She lowered her head so it fit into the nape of his neck and leaned into him, looking for the support she so desperately needed but felt undeserving of. She felt Chakotay's arms go around her, one hand stoking her hair.

Chakotay held on the Kathryn as though she was going to float away if he let go, his mind racing, blaming himself. With every tearful moan that came from her throat, his heart broke a little more.

Kathryn rested her hands on his chest as she blindly moved her lips in search of his. Chakotay returned the kiss with a kind of growl deep in his throat and kissed her back with such intensity that Kathryn's arms and legs weakened, his arms the only thing holding her up.

They stood locked in that tearful embrace for what seemed like an eternity.

As they withdrew from each other, Kathryn took Chakotay's hand and led him to the couch by the window.

After a moment of uncomfortable silence, they both started to speak at once. The humor of the moment helped break the tension.

"I'm sorry, Chakotay. For someone so smart, I can be such an idiot."

Chakotay gave a small smile..."Love'll do that to ya."

Kathryn smiled. "I haven't given my all to a relationship since the first time I was in love. I guess I figured I couldn't hurt as bad if I didn't put so much into it. I guess that's why Mark was so safe for me and I took him for granted. He never challenged my love for him. He was comfortable, easy."

"I'd started to take you for granted, and you called me on it. I've been thinking all day about what you said in my ready room, the way you look at me, how my heart beats faster when you're near, how you challenge my love for you...without even saying anything. It's almost like falling in love again for the first time...and that scares the hell out of me."

She looked out of her window, the stars sparkling in her tears. "I thought I'd lost you today. That thought put me in a tail spin."

Chakotay moved to wipe the tear from her cheek, she covered his hand with hers and kissed his palm and moved closer to him. "I love you, Chakotay. I'll do my damnedest to make sure you know that...whether we are on duty or not."

She closed her eyes and rested her forehead against his. Chakotay kissed her gently and took her into his arms. As she fell asleep in his arms, he looked out at the stars and thanks the gods with all his heart and soul.

FINIS

To my other stories:

 Resolutions Vignette  No Longer Alone  All or Nothing
 What He Wants  Pursuit of Closure "Night" Prequel
"Night" Sequel Reaching Out The Hunt
Thank you for being a friend The Encounter If you like Kathryn Janeway
The Dream Gotcha Mad Scientist Janeway
Remembering Kathryn Vignette Series It's Never to Early for That
Sex & Ice Heat & Insomnia  

[ Saffron's Stories & Links | A Touch of Kate | Janeway Kashyk Fan Fiction ]